Readers Share the Best Book They've Ever Received

Posted by Cybil on December 9, 2016

Few things delight us more than receiving the perfect book at just the right time. Whether it’s a signed, first-edition copy of a treasured tome or an unexpected gift that gets you back into reading, books have the power to transform. We asked Goodreads readers to share the story of the best book they ever received and why it was so important to them. See what they said below.

Please share your own memories with us in the comments. We’d love to hear about the books gifted to you that made a lasting impression.

From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz
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"My kids gave it to me for Christmas one year while I was struggling with addiction. They had no idea what the theme of the story was but it changed my life. So much so, I actually wrote a letter to him [Koontz] and he sent me a signed copy. What a super guy Mr. Koontz is! I have had to sell my books to eat but NEVER those two! I'll starve first." (Kelly)

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
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"I had stopped reading for a decade and a teacher visiting us from the U.S. gave it to me, telling me that all teachers should read this and share it with their older kids. So I did, and that rekindled my love for reading." (Patrina)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
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"My first copies of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings when I was in junior high. It was the boxed set with the stars that Tolkien drew. It was the only thing I wanted for Christmas and I was so happy to get them that I took them to church with me that morning." (Emily)

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
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"Little Women along with a set of other children's classics that my mom gave me as a Christmas present when I was eight. I have loved those books ever since, particularly Little Women, and they are tattered from re-readings. They were foundational in establishing my love of reading and my career as a freelance writer." (Sherri)

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
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"A signed copy of the Wind in the Willows. I was only 7 or 8 and didn't learn to read till the 3rd grade and this book with the lovely illustrations transported me to a fantastic world. I learned that I could escape the turmoil and drama of my older siblings within the pages of a book. I still use books as an escape and only occasionally have a book hangover the next day." (Denise)

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
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"My Aunt Diane gave it to me when I was 10 years old. I still have it, almost 40 years later, and I think of her every time I read it." (Lisa)

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
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"Before my boyfriend died of cancer nearly seven years ago, he gave me his first edition, leather bound, signed copy of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist." (Melanie)

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
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"My high school English teacher recommended it to me and let me borrow his copy. After seeing how much I loved it, my mom gave me my own copy for Easter. It sent me on a journey to learn about the real Tudors and England under their rule. My love of the Tudors influenced me to study History in college and I wrote my freshman paper on Anne Boleyn and my senior paper on Jane Seymore, Henry's third wife." (Chelsey)

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
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"It was my best friend's personal copy that she turned to for peace, I was going through a really rough time. I keep it by my bed still, years later." (Hazel)

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
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"I wrote to Santa that I wanted this book for Christmas. I went to post office with my grandmother and she said, 'Do not forget to write your address on the back of the envelope because it is important for Santa to know where to find you.' I found the very same book under the Christmas tree with my letter inside it. Mind you, it took me several years to figure out that the letter was returned to sender because of non-existing recipient address and that is why it was inside the book. It was 30 years ago and my grandmother is long gone now and I got many books since then but this one is still the best!" (Maja)

Want more book-gifting inspiration? Check out our full Goodreads Gift Guide!

Comments Showing 1-33 of 33 (33 new)

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message 1: by Kristy (new)

Kristy I was gifted The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley by my high school roommate at age 16 and it completely changed my life, my faith, and blew my mind. I am forever thankful to her for giving me that book to read.

message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Newbery Awards Library A Wrinkle in Time, The Twenty-One Balloons, Strawberry Girl, Thimble Summer, & Roller Skates by William Pene Du Bois, Lois Lenski, Elizabeth Enright, & Ruth Sawyer Madeline L'Engle I received this Newbury Awards Library gift when I was a child. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, in particular, changed my life. It lit my imagination on fire! This experience contributed in a large way to my becoming an author. <3

message 3: by Bruce (new)

Bruce Treasure Island was the first "big" book I ever received (at age of 7, if 50+ year memory serves). I read it from front to back, then read it again. I should really go read it again right now.

message 4: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Anne of Green Gables has always been one of my favorites, and I received my copy when I was 8 years old. Anne's antics and experiences were wonderful and I always envied the fun she had in her life. Her resiliency and imagination taught me a great many lessons, too.

message 5: by Laurelyn (last edited Dec 09, 2016 01:02PM) (new)

Laurelyn Anne My mom gave me Jeanette Walls' Glass Castle, oh my goodness! It was really an amazing read and anyone with diagnosed narcissists in their family will empathize. Dad gave me Gibran's the Prophet a long time ago and I do love that book as well. I was given a copy of Little Women by stepmother the year she married my dad, maybe that explains why I hated Little Women.

message 6: by Laurelyn (new)

Laurelyn Anne Katherine wrote: "Anne of Green Gables has always been one of my favorites, and I received my copy when I was 8 years old. Anne's antics and experiences were wonderful and I always envied the fun she had in her life..."

I loved that book growing up! My dad read to us a bunch (by request, I'm sure he wanted to diversify our bedtime stories) and I just mailed my older sister our gorgeously illustrated edition for her daughters and her to enjoy all over again.

message 7: by Bree (new)

Bree Hill I fell in love with reading through my obsession as a kid with the Goosebumps by R. L. Stein. These were always gifts to me from my parents. They kind of monitored which ones they had already purchased and would just keep me stocked up on them.

message 8: by Diana (new)

Diana My grandmother gave me my first copy of Anne of Green Gables when I was around 8 years old. I've been in love with L.M. Montgomery's work ever since.

message 9: by Josiah (new)

Josiah For my seventh birthday anniversary, my aunt bought me more than a dozen Choose Your Own Adventure books. That helped foster my love of reading, and I've been partial to gamebooks ever since. Last Christmas I received an antique copy (more than a hundred years old) of one of the best books I ever read, Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. Those are just two of many, many memorable book gifts in my life.

message 10: by Ollivier (new)

Ollivier On my 13th birthday, I got the French translation of "The Codebreakers" by David Kahn on the history of cryptography. No book has ever made such a big impression on me (and I've read a lot) and it started my interested in crypto. Even discovering in '96 with the 2nd edition in English that the French one was a butchered edition with almost no technical description nor pictures was not enough :)

message 11: by j (last edited Dec 10, 2016 12:41AM) (new)

j mansouri one of my best friends gave me the book wonder. it was actually one of the best books i have ever read i love it and it is so nice. the way he and heis friends/family/etc. think and feel and acts just gives you a new way to look at life and yourself.

message 12: by Natasha (new)

Natasha Two years ago a friend of mine sent me The Secret History as a Christmas/birthday present and it was one of the best things she could ever gift me. It's one of my favorite books and I have already read it twice. I have given as gift the book to someone else too to keep spreading TSH love.

message 13: by Ilana (new)

Ilana  Dunkle The Faded Sun Trilogy

One Christmas my dad gave me a stack of sci-fi books, The Faded Sun Trilogy is still my favorite.

message 14: by Sarina Soren (new)

Sarina Soren Little Women was the best book I have ever both received and given. (Okay maybe this is a stretch, I gave it to myself.)

message 15: by Himika (new)

Himika Chakraborty A Little Princess,for my 12th birthday.It's one of the most heartwarming and beautiful classics I've ever read.

message 16: by Anne (new)

Anne The Voyage of the Basset by James C. Christensen. Fuckin' work of art, in so many ways.

message 17: by NerdyJediGymnast (last edited Dec 09, 2016 09:23PM) (new)

NerdyJediGymnast Three Dark Crowns was released 5 days before my 14th birthday and my older sister bought it for me.

Then my other sister bought me Dorothy Must Die and my friend bought me Red Queen. Best. Birthday. EVER.

message 18: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Schindell Kristy wrote: "I was gifted The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley by my high school roommate at age 16 and it completely changed my life, my faith, and blew my mind. I am forever thankful to her for giving..."

Oh, that book still has a treasured place on my bookshelf!!
Although, most anything King Arthur, Merlin, Lady In The Lake
etc., and I became 100% enthralled....
fantasies abound! Thank you for that DJV moment!! :-)

message 19: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Schindell Himika wrote: "A Little Princess,for my 12th birthday.It's one of the most heartwarming and beautiful classics I've ever read."

I'm brand new to Goodreads..
I wish they had "upvotes"
you'd get two!!

message 20: by Johanna (last edited Dec 10, 2016 06:22AM) (new)

Johanna Schindell Laurelyn wrote: "Katherine wrote: "Anne of Green Gables has always been one of my favorites, and I received my copy when I was 8 years old. Anne's antics and experiences were wonderful and I always envied the fun s..."

Fantastic story! I wanted to live there permanently.
I couldn't get my daughter to read it because she watched the movie in English Lit. What irony.....

message 21: by Dr Rashmit (new)

Dr Rashmit Mishra i remember getting Hobbit as a gift , Best gift Ever !

message 22: by Jessica (new)

Jessica The best book-gift I've ever gotten would probably be A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. It's incredible.

message 23: by Odette (new)

Odette Harry Potter en de Steen der Wijzen (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling When my mother said that I would probably like Harry Potter and gave me the first book of the series in paperback to read when I was about 8-9 years old, I don't think she expected that she instilled a life-long love for these books.
I've grown up with these books and with Harry, Ron and Hermione as well. It taught me that being different in any way is alright. Rowling's way with words, het imagination and the personal development of her characters have helped me so much and made my world a little more magical ;) (Yes, I went there). These are probably the books I have and will re-read the most. HP and the philosopher's stone has been read so often it's completely tattered right now.

Still waiting on my letter from Hogwarts <3

message 24: by Mina (new)

Mina Fifteen Jules Verne second-hand editions in a black shopping bag for my 13 Bday

message 25: by Hayley (new)

Hayley For my 9th birthday, my aunt bought me the Young Reader's Edition of 'I Am Malala'. I doubt she realized how much of an impact it would have on my life, as Malala Yousafzai is now my role model and inspired me to support girl's education!

message 26: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Schindell At the age of twelve I discovered Tarzan. I planted myself in a hammock with Edgar Rice Burroughs and stayed there until I devoured every book in the series. I miss him....

message 27: by Erin C. (new)

Erin C. At the risk of sounding cliché... Harry Potter was the best gift ever!

When I was 8, I heard about the book on a tv-show and wanted to put it on my Christmas wishlist. My mom didn't know about it and was afraid I was asking for something that I wouldn't understand or read so she didn't let me write it down. I was not happy about that!

My auntie didn't know about the whole discussion, had just read it and found it so cool that she got it for me. She literally made my Christmas of 1999 and probably the rest of my life too!

message 28: by Maureen (last edited Dec 10, 2016 07:07AM) (new)

Maureen My dearest, sweetest best friend in the whole world gave me a first edition of The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim she knew how much I loved this book and its unparalleled and mostly overlooked tale of finding and cherishing friendship in the most unexpected places. Love the book and love my bestie.

message 29: by Laura (last edited Dec 10, 2016 08:45AM) (new)

Laura L. Van Dam Cosmos by Carl Sagan when i was about 10. I was a geek girl and loved the TV show but my parents couldnt afford the book because it was really expensive.
Then my godfather (who is my dad´s cousin) gave it to me as a gift... so excited! The following year he gave me Comet which i enjoyed even more. These books cemented my passion for science and i chose a career in science as an adult.

message 30: by Lydia Erickson (new)

Lydia Erickson The absolute best book I have ever received as a gift was "On Basilisk Station" by David Weber from my best friend. This has now grown to an approximately 20 book obsession for both of us and we are proud to announce that we have infected many others with this series. Amazing characters, horrible warfare, spys and lovers, space opera at its best, never forgetting the "human" heart of the story factor. David Weber is as good as Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov and almost any other master of the craft.

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* I don't have a "best book" since I love so many, but best gifts of books rather, which I think the article meant either way - a dear friend sent me an Edgar Allan Poe compilation. I treasure it, my friend has passed away.

I hold the Game of Thrones box set close because I actually gifted it to another friend who was killed in a motorcycle accident - they had left it with me to read.

I treasure Redeeming Love because of the incredibly touching story of how I got it from these strangers.

Finally, I treasure the Women's devotional NIV bible because of the life-changing weekend when I received it as a generous gift from a new friend during a hard time in life.

message 32: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Windmoller I just read Dogwood Blues, by Brenda Sutton Rose. It was wonderful. She describes southern living,which includes nosy neighbors,and referendums on liquor sales.
Coming from New England,I laughed and cried at the characters.
I highly recommend this book and await a second one.

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